I just found out that today, 18th June 2016 is World Sushi Day! Apparently it has been around since 2009 and it has a very simple purpose – to encourage people around the world to eat Sushi. One is supposed to “celebrate” the World Sushi Day by having a plate of Sushi. I likely won’t be able to indulge in that most wonderful pleasure today, but to express my undying love for this simplest but most delicious of foods, the least I can do is pen down a few words of affection.
For a person like me who can eat Sushi by the tons, it is ironic that I do not clearly remember where I had my first piece of this heavenly grub! But I do remember that my first “gourmet” plate of Sushi was in San Diego at Kings Fish House, a restaurant well-known locally for its seafood. I don’t know whether it was the fresh seafood, or if the chef was super-special or if I was just plain starved, but I still cannot forget the 21-piece platter that I had. I clearly remember, there were about 5-6 pieces left that I clutched close to my heart when we left the restaurant, lovingly deposited in the refrigerator, and promptly proceeded to eat for breakfast as soon my eyes opened!
Since then, it has been a swinging, torrid affair –me & Sushi! I have seeked these little mounds of vinegar-ed rice and raw fish in various corners of the world and devoured them. I have read about it extensively and I have dedicated myself enough to sit through documentaries about it. My favorite one has been “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” – the story of Jiro, the perfectionist chef who runs a Sushi restaurant in a Tokyo train station, where you cannot get a reservation for the next 6 months because the spots are already filled up! #Goals
I have never cared or thought about whether I like Maki, Nigiri, Sashimi or Californian rolls the best – give me a mixed platter anytime – only more salmon the better! I have tried Sushi in restaurants that cover the entire spectrum. I’ve had the most amazing Sashimi at Chef Matsuhisa Nobu’s well-known Nobu Restaurant which was then at the swanky Shore Club hotel, South Beach Miami (now I hear, it has moved to Hotel Eden Roc) and recently at the passionately run Doraku restaurant, also in Miami. Some local restaurants such as Friend’s Sushi in downtown Chicago, nameless restaurants inside the Sydney Fish Market and, surprisingly, Kylin in Chandigarh do a great job at it. When you cannot necessarily afford the time (and the $$) for a nice sit down meal, the conveyor belt Sushi suffices – London is full of Yo! Sushi and You, Me, Sushi; Dubai airport has a decent enough restaurant that gets you affordable Sushi; and if you can eat Sushi like me – happily substituting it for daal-chaawal; you are sorted! Sometimes, only sometimes, I get put off by bad sushi. But I eat first, and think later. Heck, I even pick up pathetic take-away Sushi from super-markets and I am happy. So far, bad Sushi has only fuelled my desire for a better plate the next time.
For all my friends, who like sushi… I wish you more of it. Those who haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to lovingly mix a bit of that Wasabi – the strange, dry, green sauce into your little pond of soy-sauce. Look endearingly at your piece of Sushi, gently pick it up with the chopsticks and dip it into the sauce; (I always recommend you do this side-ways – not the rice part down– gives you an even soak and just enough) and then put the whole piece into your mouth and chew on the goodness! The crunch of the raw fish and the softness of the rice will transport you to heaven. I personally assure you of this on the World Sushi Day!